Editor's Report
A Surprise for Sister Roz
Editor’s Report
John Woods

Many of us at the New York Catholic Center, the archdiocesan headquarters in Manhattan, who have had the privilege of getting to know Sister Rosamond Blanchet, R.S.H.M., have been impressed by the joy and good humor she brings to her work on behalf of the religious who serve the archdiocese.

Her work as associate vicar for religious for the past four years has been just one stop in more than a half century of service that began when she entered the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary in 1962.

Sister Roz, as she is known to most everyone, was first a teacher at a school in Garden City, then taught and was principal of another school in Queens. She also served as a pastoral associate at a parish in Rumson, N.J. She spent seven happy and challenging years with Good Shepherd Services where she was an independent living coordinator preparing girls in the foster care system who were residing at the agency’s group residences to live on their own as adults.

She has also held leadership positions with her religious congregation’s Eastern American Province, serving as formation director in the 1980s and more recently being elected provincial councilor, 1997-2003, and provincial superior, 2003-2009.

“I’ve done a lot of different things. I’ve found the diversity of my ministries very life-giving,” she said during an interview in her 20th-floor office at the Catholic Center last week.

“They are ministries I wouldn’t have necessarily planned for myself.”

That quote certainly holds true in every way for her new position as general superior of the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary worldwide. She was elected by the delegates to the congregation’s general chapter in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. It was the first time an American-born sister from the Eastern Province has been elected general superior.

“This general chapter was much in the hands of the God of surprises,” said Sister Roz with a smile.

The theme of the chapter, which lasted for most of June, was “A Journey to Emmaus,” based on the Gospel story from Luke. The sister delegates from around the world worked hard planning the congregation’s mission for the next six years. Although the chapter document hadn’t yet been published, Sister Roz said that one of the sisters’ chief orders of business was to continue their work with and for “our marginalized brothers and sisters, especially women and children.”

The chapter’s timing was fortuitous as it came just a few weeks before Pope Francis traveled to the South American country for World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro. “We are heartened by the vision of Pope Francis for religious life,” Sister Roz said.

It was the first time in decades the general chapter had been held outside Rome. Belo Horizonte was a good choice because that is where the novitiate for new sisters of the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary is located. The new novices to be professed in January come from all around the world—Ireland, Brazil, and Zambia and Mozambique in Africa.

“We are one institute, one body for mission, and can be sent to any of our ministries in any province or region,” Sister Roz said.

She is living proof of that. On Nov. 21, she will begin her six-year term as general superior at the sisters’ generalate in Rome, just about three miles from the Vatican.

Accepting the responsibilities of her new position, Sister Roz said, called forth in her “a trust, that I’m in God’s hands, and God accompanies me on this journey.” In turn, she said, she would be open to what the Lord and her fellow sisters ask of her.

Clarification: Thanks to eagle-eyed reader Hans Hoerdemann, who noted that I was mistaken in my Editor’s Report column of July 11 when I wrote that 50,000 soldiers were killed in the Civil War’s Battle of Gettysburg. Union and Confederate forces suffered approximately that number of casualties, which included soldiers who died, were injured or were listed as missing.

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